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Wednesday, 12 June, 2002, 11:43 GMT 12:43 UK
French press aghast at 'Apocalypse Now'
Frantic French supporters
Ignominy as the Blues meet their Waterloo
France's elimination from the World Cup has caused much soul-searching in the French press.

"On the plane back to Paris first thing on Wednesday, the French players will still not have realised the almost unbelievable scale of their sporting failure," the sports daily L'Equipe says.

At no stage in the first round did the French team show its true prowess, the paper believes.


The French team might as well have stayed at home

Le Figaro
"Slow, powerless, tired and overwhelmed by destiny, the team paved the way for its elimination by underestimating the difficulties it faced," says L'Equipe.

"This result in unworthy of the team, unworthy of the talent... of some of its players, and unworthy of our football."

But, it adds with a philosophical shrug of the shoulders, "even the most beautiful stories come to an end."

Apocalypse

The daily Le Parisien is even more downcast.

"Choose your own epithet: debacle, rout, collapse, fiasco, nightmare, trauma, humiliation... For the Blues, this is 'Apocalypse Now'. No-one imagined such a catastrophic scenario," the paper wails.

It speaks of France's loyal supporters "dazed and distraught, crying tears of desperation - where were they, our magnificent 1998 world champions, and what of our dreams?"

The conservative daily Le Figaro argues that the French squad "wasn't ready to defend its world title either psychologically, physically or tactically."

The French team "might as well have stayed at home", it says. "There is huge disappointment that the glorious Blues of 1998 have become mere mortals."


It's only football. It's not the end of the world

L'Humanite

The business daily La Tribune looks beyond the Gallic horizon to the wider footballing context.

"The show goes on," it muses. "Other champions will take over, and the enthusiasm that the French supporters have lost will have been picked up by the Danes, Senegalese and Brazilians. In other words, the football business has not died with the defeat of the Blues."

Not the end of the world

Le Monde suggests that too much glory can damage your footballing health.

"These men so sure of themselves and of their status, covered in glory, exhausted after a long season... how badly did they want to excel themselves once again?" it asks.

The paper calls France "an orphaned squad", because, in its view, it missed the "special state of mind" created in 1998 and 2000 by the team-bonding influence of Laurent Blanc and Didier Deschamps, both of whom retired from international football after the 2000 European Championship.

"Friendship is no longer the driving force of this French squad," it believes. "The wish to go beyond one's limits for the sake of the others... is no longer there."

But perhaps the most upbeat critique of the dialectics of post-World Cup football comes from the Communist Party daily L'Humanite.

"Come on," it chirps, "It's only football. It's not the end of the world."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

11 Jun 02 | Denmark v France
11 Jun 02 | Denmark v France
11 Jun 02 | Denmark v France
11 Jun 02 | Photo Galleries
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